Installation of an Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) field hospital, which is aimed at boosting coronavirus care capacity and intensive care facilities in the country's worst affected region, began on the island of Saaremaa on Wednesday.
The field hospital is located next to Kuressaare Hospital, which has been seeing pressure on its capacity, with 25 people currently being treated for the COVID-19 virus, one of whom is in intensive care, BNS reports. The hospital itself has already set up a third isolation ward for treating coronavirus patients.
Kuressaare Hospital announced on its social media page Wednesday that a convoy of trucks bringing the hospital equipment had arrived (see video above).
A tent housing a coronavirus testing point, which can be conducted in-car at the hospital, has been moved to another location close by.
The EDF field hospital staff will consist of one doctor, two intensive care nurses, one anesthesiology nurse, four emergency medicine nurses, one midwife, five general nurses, four EDF paramedics and 15 conscript paramedics. The latter will serve as support personnel at the hospital.
The EDF conscripts are tasked primarily with the hospital's assembly, keeping it working, ensuring the necessary capabilities, and packing away the hospital and transporting it back to the mainland, once the crisis has ended, 2nd Lt. Martin Lember said, via a spokesperson.
EDF: All field hospital personnel are volunteers
Notwithstanding the reports that conscripts are involved in the field hospital's operations, the EDF says that all those who have traveled to Saaremaa for the operation are volunteers.
Lt. Col. Ahti Varblane, chief of medicine at the Health Board's crisis headquarters, told journalists on Wednesday that going to foreign missions is voluntary in Estonia; the Saaremaa operation is being classified as a mission even though it takes place on Estonian soil, making the field hospital's team all volunteers.
The field hospital comprises 20 bed spaces, enabling the provision of additional oxygen to patients. Eight of these have been stepped-up with oxygen capacity for patients in critical condition, BNS reports.
Saaremaa has by far the highest per capita incidence of coronavirus at a reported 86.38 per 10,000 inhabitants, compared with 4.36 in Harju County. The next-highest incidence is in Võru County, where 16.77 people per 10,000 have been confirmed with the virus.
Editor: Andrew Whyte